Coming Soon, A Medical Tricorder?

By Michelle
May 23, 2007 - 9:05 PM

If a medical tricorder has always seemed vastly preferable to a needle biopsy, there's good news: doctors are developing a scanner that may perform similar functions to the Star Trek device.

"In almost every episode of Star Trek, there is a device called a tricorder, which they used non-invasively to scan living or non-living matter to determine its molecular makeup. Something like that would be very, very useful," researcher Howard Chang told Pharmaceutical Business Review Online. Chang is one of the leaders of the team at the University of California School of Medicine investigating means of allowing doctors to study the genetic makeup of cancer cells without having to perform invasive biopsy procedures.

The research team compared computerized tomography (CT) scans of abnormal growths with gene patterns obtained from biopsies and surgery. The doctors hoped to use non-invasive imaging to create individual plans of treatment without the need for repeated incisions.

"We found a rich association between the images and the gene expression," said Michael Kuo, an assistant professor of interventional radiology. The research team was able to associate imaging traits with 75% of the approximately 7000 genes in the growths studied.

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